Synopses & Reviews
The controlled and calm life of William Oaks is shattered when his parents die suddenly in a car accident. A reclusive paper conservator at a renowned Toronto museum, William must face the obsessions and denials that have formed him: delusional family history, religious fundamentalism, and get-rich-quick schemes. Memory and facts collide, threatening to derail his life and career as William feverishly prepares for an important exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
"Murray's debut novel is a meditation on pain and solitude. William Oaks has finally begun to distance himself from his toxic relationship with his parents when they die in a car accident. The event pulls him back into the world of his childhood, which was shaped by a smalltown Pentecostal church and his mother's devotion to selling a meal-replacement beverage called Slender Nation. Most of the novel is structured as footnotes to the eulogy that William delivers at his parents' funeral, a series of memories and anecdotes. Tracing the lineage of his pain, from his research about long-forgotten ancestors to his childhood and his adult life as a paper conservator at the Royal Ontario Museum, these chapters reveal a deeply isolated human being whose only trusted companion is the physical pain that he inflicts on himself to subdue his emotional chaos. The novel, like William and his parents, avoids humor and compassion, and is driven by a dynamic between a longing for connection and the disappointment that accompanies the failure to find it. While this creates an interesting emotional parallel, it also leaves the reader feeling detached and numb, like they too didn't quite get what they'd hoped for. Agent: Strothman Agency. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Absorbing novel . . . A cautious optimist, Murray grants this wounded soul a chance for happiness while acknowledging the work required to clasp it fully." —Brett Josef Grubisic, straight.com
"Ken Murray’s powerful, poignant debut . . . a book about grief has no right to be a page-turner, but this one is." —Jade Colbert, Globe and Mail
About the Author
Ken Murray lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario. He teaches creative writing at Haliburton School of the Arts and at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. He is a volunteer broadcaster in community radio and dabbles in several sports. Eulogy is his first novel. For more information visit kenmurray.ca.